New York Yankees: How Mark Teixeira's Injury Will Change AL East Playoff Picture

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New York Yankees: How Mark Teixeira's Injury Will Change AL East Playoff Picture
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The mighty Yankees—oh, the New York Yankees have found themselves in quite the precarious position.

As of Tuesday, September 4, the Bronx Bombers are tied with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the AL East. The perennially losing Orioles have matched records with their northern rivals in arguably the toughest division in all of professional sports.

And then there’s the Mark Teixeira factor.

Teixeira—the heart of the Yankees lineup—has missed the past seven games due to a left calf injury. His team has lost five out of those seven contests.

Meanwhile, the Orioles have won six out of eight.

Coincidence or not, Teixeira’s absence has the Orioles on the rise, and the Yankees on the steady downturn.

New York—comprehensively speaking—has scored the fifth-most runs in the league. In the past seven without Teixeira, however, they have been outscored 35-20. At the same time, the O’s have outscored their opponents 45-19.

And one cannot talk about the Yankees without mentioning the AL East as a whole—especially with any playoff implications in the topic of conversation.

Yet, instead of the usual Yankees-Red Sox battle, it’s a battle royal featuring David versus a certain Goliath. That “David”—mind you—is an Orioles squad that hasn’t won much of anything in the past 15 years.

Al Bello/Getty Images
The Yankees would appreciate multiple repeats of this swing.

Complicating matters even further is the proximity with which the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves in relation to the Yankees. With a mere 26 games left to play, the Rays sit just 1.5 games back in the standings.

The pertinent connection of this idea relates to the number of offensive wins above replacement next to Teixeira’s name.

2.0

So, if Teixeira’s value to his team amounts to two notches in the W column, an extended absence would essentially translate into a second-place standing for the Yankees. Other factors certainly play a part, but the significance of this slugger’s presence in the lineup cannot be denied.

Moreover, New York’s recent head-to-head record against the two teams on its heels further exemplifies the ramifications associated with a Teixeira-deficient lineup.

Baltimore took two out of three over the holiday weekend, followed by the Rays taking the last two at Tropicana Field. The Yankees mustered four runs just once in their sole win in this latest five-game stretch. The need for Teixeira’s offensive contributions could not be any more readily apparent.

It’s difficult to fathom—let alone attribute—such significance to one player on a New York Yankees lineup. Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson—sensible minds would merely drop a patented, “Really?”

Teixeira, though, is simply the anchor. He solidifies the middle of the order—whether batting in the No. 3, 4 or 5 slot.

The Yankees absolutely need their everyday slugging first baseman as the AL East playoff scenarios become finalized. Eight out of the next 11 against the Rays and Orioles will surely highlight that necessity.

Can you imagine an MLB postseason without the New York Yankees?

Yeah—it really hasn’t ever happened. Much is on Teixeira to ensure that it doesn’t.

 

Follow me on Twitter @jlevitt16

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